Fireworks 101: Which fireworks are legal in Florida?

By Adrienne Moore, Weekend anchor, reporter, amoore@wjxt.com
Published On: Jul 01 2013 10:40:36 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2013 07:07:28 AM EDT

Can you tell which fireworks are illegal to set off for your Independence Day celebration? We put some residents to the test.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Most of the fun that comes during the Fourth of July happens with fireworks, but many people don't realize a lot of fireworks in Florida are illegal to set off.

Florida's Firework's laws allow people to buy things under the "sparklers" category, meaning items like fountains, snakes, glow worms and sparklers.

According to the State Fire Marshal, fireworks categorized as firecrackers, roman candles and red waves explode or shoot through the air, and those fireworks aren't legal in Florida.

In Duval County, Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, explained to Channel 4 what's legal in Duval County.

"In Duval County, anything that explodes or can rocket is illegal," said Wyse. "If you want to see the rocketing or the exploding you need to go downtown or the beaches, you know where those legal fireworks displays are going on," said Wyse.

While Duval County isn't allowed to sell any illegal fireworks, people can purchase them in St. Johns County where a legal loophole allows the sale.

When a purchase is made, customers have to sign a waiver and in the fine print, it states that the buyer intends to use the fireworks for an approved purchase.

That fine print lets the store off the hook if the purchaser uses the illegal fireworks, but not the purchaser, and there are consequences to setting off illegal fireworks, no matter where you buy them.

"It's a first degree misdemeanor and up to $1,000 fine, so it can be pretty serious," said Wyse.

The Florida Fire Marshal puts out a list of what's legal and what's not every year before the Fourth of July.

Experts are also warning to be safe during backyard celebrations for this holiday. Whether the party is at home, downtown Jacksonville or out at the beach, first responders are doing all they can to keep people safe and the Fourth of July holiday injury free.

"If you hold it in your hand and it explodes, you could lose your fingers, you could lose a hand, you know damage your eyes, have second or third degree burns," said Wyse.

According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 200 people went to the Emergency Room with fireworks related injuries around the July 4th holiday, of those injuries, 41 percent were injuries to people's fingers and hands and more than half of the injuries were for burns.

"If kids are playing with sparklers, you want to make sure they're under constant supervision," said Wyse. "You know where those sparklers are going once they're out and actually having the adult light them."

"Parents need to be accountable for their kids, and they need to take the proper precautions and show them how to use them," said Jacksonville Beach Fire Chief Gary Frazier.

Fraizer said the Jacksonville Beach Fire Department has additional staff on hand to manage big crowds for the Fourth of July fireworks at the beach this year.

"We want to encourage people to use the crosswalks. In the past, we've had some people trying to cross in the middle of the street with heavy traffic and have had some injured severely," said Frazier.

Channel 4's Safety Expert, Ken Jefferson, said parents also have an important job this holiday; they need to make sure to keep their kids close when they're in crowds this holiday.

"Always make sure you keep your small kids close to you," said Jefferson. "Hold their hand, put them in strollers, do whatever you have to do to keep your hands on your child, especially when you're squeezing through crowds."

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